Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Bread

I first stumbled upon Ashley Rodriquez's olive oil bread recipe last year, early fall.  I've made countless loaves and I have a hard time saying no to a slice (or two, or three).  Each bite of warm bread deserves a small chunk of cold butter in my opinion. 

Not long before Christmas, I made the mistake (the very delicious mistake) of adding chopped bittersweet chocolate to the dough and it was life changing (and belly expanding).  Preston and I ate a slice every morning for a week straight.  We would lightly toast it and then smear homemade ricotta drizzled with vanilla bean honey on each and every bite (the more the better).  Oh my!  It was perfection!  (We even shared a slice with the washing machine repair man who was fixing our washing machine a couple days before Christmas.  Ugh!)

This afternoon I started planning my mama's birthday breakfast because this Thursday is her birthday.  I'm always looking for an excuse to have my family and friends over to share a meal and a birthday is always a good excuse to gather those I love around my kitchen table.  Not long after I started making plans my mama sent a text to me with a birthday request for homemade ricotta cheese and just like that, dark chocolate olive oil bread (along with a side of the requested ricotta cheese) quickly made its way onto her birthday breakfast menu. 

Happy Birthday Mama!  May this coming year be filled with all kinds of wonderful!  I love you with all of my heart!

Homemade Olive Oil Bread

2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup lukewarm water
1/3 cup great quality extra virgin olive oil
3 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons kosher salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
In a large mixing bowl, combine yeast, honey, and water.  Stir to combine and let rest for 5 minutes, or until yeast begins to foam.  Add the olive oil, flour, and salt and stir to combine into a shaggy ball.  Place shaggy dough ball on a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 minute until dough is smooth and a round ball forms.

Brush a little olive oil inside the empty mixing bowl and place dough back into the bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about 1 hour or until doubled in size.

Once doubled, place dough on a lightly floured surface and press dough into a rectangle.  Spread half of the chopped chocolate and fold in both sides like you are folding a business letter.  Press gently into a rectangle again and sprinkle with the remaining chopped chocolate.  Fold again as you would a business letter and then tuck sides under, forming dough into a ball.

Preheat oven to 375° F.  Place dough on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush with olive oil and allow to rise again for 30 minutes, lightly draped with plastic wrap to cover.  Just before baking, sprinkle with flake salt.

Bake for 30 minutes or until deep golden brown.  Remove bread from oven and brush loaf of bread with additional olive oil if desired.

Recipe slightly adapted from Live.Love.Lux

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Soft Pretzels

These soft pretzels were pretty much all Preston (I helped with the boiling water part of the recipe).  He had these soft pretzels on an end of the year field trip to Sundance Resort and loved them.  He came home with soft pretzels on the brain and a recipe in hand.  It only took a couple of days before he was in the kitchen using yeast for the very first time.  I love how brave he is in the kitchen. 

The first round of proofing the yeast, the water was too warm and didn't survive.  The second time around a foamy mixture meant success.  Together we rolled the dough into long ropes and Preston skillfully demonstrated the art of twisting a pretzel into the traditional "pretzel" shape for me. 

Moments after they were pulled from the oven and bathed in salty, melted butter, we devoured them.  The cinnamon sugar ones were a hit, but I'm a sucker for a warm, soft, buttery pretzel dipped in a generous amount of mustard. Mmmmm!

After our bellies were filled and our fingers were covered in butter (and cinnamon sugar), Preston conveniently left for a golf tournament leaving me with a sink full of dishes and a counter covered in flour, butter, and empty cookie sheets.  But, the mess was completely worth it.  I love watching him get excited about being in the kitchen (with the added bonus of a warm, soft pretzel of course).

Soft Pretzels

3 cups warm water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/4 tablespoons salt
1 1/2 tablespoons yeast
5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
6 cups of water
2/3 cup baking soda
Coarse salt
Melted butter

Place water, yeast, and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer.  Let rest 5 minutes or until the mixture begins to foam.  Add the flour and butter and using the dough hook, mix on low speed until well combined.  Increase the speed to medium and knead until the dough is soft and glossy, about 5 minutes.  Place dough in a greased bowl and let dough sit until doubled in size, about 45-50 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and lightly grease.

Portion the dough into 4-ounce balls.  Using your hands roll each piece of dough into a long rope.  Take the ends of the rope and form a U-shape.  Holding the ends of the rope, cross them over each other and press onto the bottom of the U to form the shape of a pretzel. 

In a large pot combine 6 cups of water and baking soda and bring to a rolling boil.  Place the pretzels into the boiling water, one by one, for 30 seconds.  Remove from the water using a flat spatula and place on baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Bake for 12-14 minutes or until golden brown.  Brush warm pretzels with melted butter.

Recipe slightly adapted from Sundace Resort